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Government launches review into future of lawn bowls in the ACT

Lachlan Roberts 5 May 2019 18

ACT Government has launched a review of lawn bowls in the ACT to assist with future planning considerations for the sport. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The ACT Government has launched a review into the future of lawn bowls in the territory after four facilities have been forced to shut down over the last decade.

Lawn bowl clubs have been the target for developers over the years, with concern rising about the long term future of clubs across the nation’s capital and whether more clubs would be sold or redeveloped.

As a result, the ACT Government, in partnership with Bowls ACT, is undertaking a strategic review of bowls in the ACT to assist with future planning considerations for the sport.

RSM Australia will conduct the review into lawn bowls facilities across the territory, which will detail the annual cost of operating and maintaining bowling greens for each lawn bowls facility.

The review will also identify the short and long term future for each of the existing lawn bowls facilities and will look at membership and usage to see how many lawn bowling greens are required in the ACT.

An ACT Government spokesperson said lawn bowls club around the ACT should not concerned about the review and said the sport remains an important community activity.

“This review intends to better understand the cost to the licensed club sector to deliver and maintain lawn bowls facilities, including in light of the closure of four facilities over the last 10 years,” the spokesperson said.

“Lawn bowls is an important sport in our community, contributing to healthy and active lifestyles.

“This is a positive step for bowls clubs and will provide useful information about the current operation and status of lawn bowls clubs in the ACT.”

RSM Australia will consult with the relevant licensed clubs that directly own and maintain the lawn bowls facilities, including the Vikings Group, Labor Club, Yowani Country Club and the RUC.

Yowani Country Club operations manager Andrew Robinson said the club had seen a steady decline of interest in the sport in the past five years, as memberships numbers continued to drop. Mr Robinson said maintaining the facility is an expensive cost for the club, with greens maintenance a major cost.

Weston Creek Labor Club bowls and events coordinator Ian Whybrow organises corporate bowls and social events at the Labor Club’s three bowling greens and is a member of the Weston Creek Bowling Club.

He said membership numbers at the club have continued to dwindle over the years due to a different demographic.

“A 12-month membership at the bowling club only costs $150 which means you don’t have to pay for green fees,” he said. “We run social bowls on Thursdays and Saturdays which only costs $8, so it isn’t an expensive sport to play.

“I think it’s great the Government is looking into how to help bowling clubs across the ACT. It is a great sport.”

The review is expected to be completed in late October.

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18 Responses to Government launches review into future of lawn bowls in the ACT
Margaret Freemantle Margaret Freemantle 5:58 pm 07 May 19

Leave our bowling clubs alone- bring in good people to help them market themselves better- don’t deny those who need and love the last few clubs left

Gwyn Rees Gwyn Rees 4:06 pm 07 May 19

Lawn Bowls - lets list some of the issues and solutions:

Changing nature of bowls - significant structural change...

- Declining membership - Approx. 1600 bowlers in the ACT being serviced by 15 bowling greens.

- Memberships costs not moving with the times - average only $150 annually - bowlers don't cover costs of maintaining bowling greens.

High overheads...

- Over 500% increases in potable water charges since early 2000s.

- Commercial rates application to club sites - massive increases like residential rates - tripling in some cases.

- Highest liquor licence fees in the country $530 NSW vs $5500 ACT to trade to midnight.

- Payroll tax highest in the country - encountered by club groups with payroll over $2 million.

- No longer able to claim greens keeper under new community contributions rules being implemented at 1 July 2019 adds new cost. Policy makers not listening.

Finally, in NSW a greater proportion of bowling clubs are likely to be in financial distress than other club types. The financial viability of bowling clubs has deteriorated since 2011, in contrast to industry-wide improvements over the same time period. Specifically, the number of bowling clubs in ‘serious financial distress’ has increased from approx. 15% to 25%. Of the 65 clubs (at 2017) that have ceased operations since 2011, over one in three were bowling clubs. Clubs face increasing market pressure and competition - clubs are not keeping pace. So what can they do!

Find ways to be more responsive to consumer demand and attract new patrons - barefoot bowls, alternate use of club space etc... lift revenues - gaming, food and beverage!

Don’t stand still - innovate.

Gwyn Rees

Chief Executive


Sharon Hunter Sharon Hunter 7:42 pm 06 May 19

So which bowling clubs are still open?

    Gwyn Rees Gwyn Rees 3:34 pm 07 May 19

    Vikings Tuggeranong, Yowani Country, Canberra Bowling Club, Labor Club Weston, The RUC at Turner Bowls and Belconnen Bowling Club.

bj_ACT 2:47 pm 06 May 19

Typo on the headline. Should read.

Government launches review into future of lawn bowls as a place to house unit developments in the ACT

ffisher 9:12 am 06 May 19

Here we go again, another “review” which means yet another developer has been meeting with the Barr government on how to get their hands on yet more land. I can hear the words being prepared by the spin doctors now, “surplus to community needs” – an expression trotted out all over Sydney to suck up public space/green space and supposedly surplus recreation areas/facilities like small parks, lawn bowls and putt-putt courses. Canberra as a livable city with opportunity for all in all things is becoming a distant memory.

Roger Mungummary Roger Mungummary 11:36 pm 05 May 19

Roughly translated..this puppet of developers government wants to crush the clubs and grab the land for tacky apartments

Monica Tiffen Monica Tiffen 9:52 pm 05 May 19

Sport is a most important part of life! It is a crying shame to take Bowls , and tennis, in fact all areas for Sport away for flats, etc.!

Paula Ogilvie Paula Ogilvie 7:45 pm 05 May 19

Kaine Malone Sally Malone

Rosemary Brooker Rosemary Brooker 7:34 pm 05 May 19

Lawn Bowls is a great sporting activity for all ages. For older Australians planning Bowls is ideal for their health & social life & a great alternative to golf which is not affordable for many. It is also good for school kids especially those who do not want to play contact sports. Local clubs need to be supported by the government for the good of the community.

HiddenDragon 6:14 pm 05 May 19

With an abundance of astroturfers around the town, surely there are lower cost alternatives to maintaining the (natural) greens…..

Carolynne Griggs Carolynne Griggs 5:30 pm 05 May 19

Lauren we need to bowl more!

Pamela Tomlinson Pamela Tomlinson 2:32 pm 05 May 19

Sounds like....this could make a nice spot for apartments.

Gail McCulloch Gail McCulloch 2:25 pm 05 May 19

Too little too late from this pathetic town council

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 2:08 pm 05 May 19

A bit late if they fill in the playing fields and other sport locations with more buildings

    Maria Greene Maria Greene 8:49 pm 05 May 19

    Janet Ilchef they can't wait to get rid of Civic pool either

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